TAKING a bath in Japan is a cultural experience.
In addition to gaining the therapeutic benefits of soaking in volcanic mineral waters, a bather can enjoy scenic views or be surrounded by gardens.
Picture yourself relaxing in an open air rock pool in a tranquil forest or watching Mt Fuji from a rooftop spa.
Toursgallery offers five different tours to Japan in 2012 on which guests can literally immerse themselves in Japanese culture.
Called an onsen in Japan, baths come in various forms from an extravagant indoor complex of steam rooms, waterfalls and whirlpools to intimate balcony baths for two.
Toursgallery director Ken Osetroff said a bath in Japan is more than a place to wash.
"It is a chance to relax, socialise, escape from the frantic world and pamper your body.
"A half hour bath is often followed by a massage treatment for tired feet."
The volcanic mineral water in the bath is reputed to cure many ailments from sore joints to wrinkles.
Ryokans or Japanese Inns all have an onsen in which guests can soak, often surrounded by landscaped gardens.
"Being segregated into separate male and female baths is fine with most people, but an all in together bath is a bit of a shock to many," said Osetroff
Communal or mixed sex baths are rare, but can still be found in rural Japan.
Visitors should also keep in mind that very few western style hotels provide an onsen for their guests.
Toursgallery has a selection of 10 to 21 day small group escorted tours of Japan commencing at $5,880 per person twin share.
These tours are limited to only 20 guests staying in a mixture of traditional Japanese spa resorts and hotels.
A private charter coach, an Australian tour manager and Japanese guide create a very comfortable Japanese cultural experience.